US National Parks, Ranked



Brothers Jim and Will Pattiz run the site More Than Just Parks, dedicated to sharing information on America's National Parks. They've tackled the task of ranking all the parks in a list that may or may not be useful to you on your future travels.  

Each of the 63 designated National Parks (National Monuments, Recreation Areas, Forests, etc. were not ranked) were rated in five equally-weighted factors: accessibility, recreation, crowds, amenities, and scenery. It's sad that a park's very attractiveness can lead to a low score due to crowds, but too many tourists can lead to dissatisfaction with the experience. In deciding whether to visit, you'll need to weigh these factors for your own purposes. If a lack of accessibility and amenities don't bother you, you could see the most glorious scenery there is, without crowds, despite a low score on this list.   

The top National Park on the list is Olympic National Park in Washington state, with a score of 48 out of 50.

My state's only National Park, Mammoth Cave, ranked abysmally. It got docked for lack of recreational activities, which is true, and for lack of scenery. Seriously, scenery? What can you expect, it's a cave! Bring lights. The park that came in dead last earned that score because it shouldn't even be a National Park. See the full list of rankings, with an explanation for each score and often a video. -via Kottke


Seven Things You Didn’t Know about Josephine Baker

You probably know a few things about Josephine Baker. She was an American entertainer who moved to Paris in the 1920s as a teenager and became a sensation for her singing, her cross-eyed comedy, and her dancing, particularly her notorious erotic dance in a skirt made of bananas. During World War II, Baker was a spy for the French Resistance, using her fame to bypass the scrutiny everyday French citizens had to endure. And later on, she adopted a dozen children from all over the world. Those things you know already.

But there was a lot to Baker's life in between those milestones. For instance, she got the name Baker when she married at age 15. That was her second marriage! During the war, Hermann Goering personally tried to murder her, and nearly succeeded before she made a daring escape. Read these stories and quite a bit more about Josephine Baker's astonishing life at Messy Nessy Chic.   


Denmark's Beautiful Cornucopia Cakes



Kransekage means wreath cake in English. These cakes are made in Scandinavia out of concentric circles of baked marzipan, and are served for holidays and special occasions. But in Denmark, if the occasion is really special, like a wedding, the cake takes on a unique shape. This is the overflødighedshorn, or cornucopia cake, a Danish tradition since the late 1700s.



The horn of plenty, or cornucopia, symbolizes good fortune, wealth, a bountiful harvest, and generosity. These Danish wedding cakes are displayed overflowing with a bounty of fruits, candies, or smaller pastries. Overflødighedshorn is an expensive confection, painstakingly made by bakers who are artists. Each ring of the horn must be baked in just the right shape to be assembled into a gravity-defying curve, held together by a bit of chocolate. Read how they do it at Atlas Obscura.

And if you ever see a overflødighedshorn, better take a picture, because this work of art will be eaten!      


Music: The Invisible Horror of The Shining

🎬 The Shining was released more than 40 years ago, but we're still finding intricate details that make the horror movie so good. In "The Invisible Horror of the Shining", Kaptainkristian explains how the brilliant music and sound editing helped elevate the movie's status as one of the most influential horror films ever made.

🥧 The Ouroboros pie is a pumpkin pie that eats itself.

🐤 Ornithologists have finally found what they've been looking for since 2000: the "Kill Bill Tanager," which got its name because it looks just like Uma Thurman's yellow jumpsuit in the Quentin Tarantino's hit movie.

🪑 Enric Miralles' furniture don't just sit around: they're dynamic, shape-shifting things.

🎵 Did you have a good Thanksgiving? Perhaps it would've been better had Weird Al Yankovic came and sang to your family. That's what Penn Holderness imagined, and we couldn't agree more.

🍼 Have you ever seen a baby armadillo? Well, here's your chance.

😂 Here are hundreds of funny T-shirts that'll tickle your funny bone.

More neat posts: Pop Culturista, Pictojam, Homes & Hues, Supa Fluffy and Laughosaurus.

Need a neat Christmas gift? Check out the NeatoShop for tons of awesome tees!


NeatoShop Black Friday 2021 Special

Psst! If you're looking for a neat T-shirt for yourself or for your loved ones as a 🎄 Christmas present that they can wear and enjoy all year long, check out the NeatoShop's Black Friday Sale: Save up to 20% on ALL tees sitewide!

But you'd better hurry: this sale ends Friday night!

Don't miss: Funny T-shirt, Fantasy T-Shirts, Sci-Fi T-Shirts, and Ugly Christmas Sweater-Style T-Shirts


Chips in the Flavors of Forbidden Food

The science of artificial flavor allows us to taste things that we'd normally never eat. Prank marketing group MSCHF (previously at Neatorama) ran with that idea and offers us Illegal Chips. This is a limited-edition selection of (possibly potato) chips that come in the flavors of forbidden food. You can try horse meat chips, fugu fish chips, and casu marzu chips. Casu marzu is the Sardinian cheese that contains sheep milk and live maggots.

Wanna try these Illegal Chips out? It will cost you around $4 for a 3-ounce bag, but only until they sell out. There are risks involved, even though the chips don't contain any of the foods they purport to taste like. One the one hand, they could taste awful. On the other hand, you might find you like one of them so much that it induces a craving for a dish you can't obtain, or obtain easily.  

You can watch a video of a taste test of the fugu-flavored chips at Boing Boing.


West Side Chanukah Story



The a cappella group Six13 (previously at Neatorama) presents their annual Chanukah production! This year, it's a medley of familiar tunes from the Broadway musical West Side Story. The six singers channel the Sharks and the Jets as they sing about the Jewish Festival of Lights and the history behind it. The video was appropriately recorded on the streets of Manhattan. While you know the songs from the 1961 movie, the newest film version of West Side Story is due in theaters on December 10. Chanukah begins at sundown on Sunday and lasts until the evening of December 6. Chag Chanukah same’ach!

PS: I have often spelled the festival as Hanukkah, but used Chanukah this time as that's the spelling that appears in the video. Both are considered correct.


That Day John Madden Ate His First Turducken



The turducken is a turkey stuffed with a duck that was stuffed with a chicken, all deboned, separated only by a layer of sausage stuffing. It was a regional delicacy in Louisiana before 1996. New Orleans butcher Glenn Mistich had built somewhat of a reputation for providing turduckens, so he was enlisted to make one for legendary sports announcer John Madden. That happened when the St. Louis Rams played the New Orleans Saints on December 1, 1996. Madden was a well-known food enthusiast, and made no bones about what he found delicious as he narrated football games. Mistich went to great lengths to deliver the best turducken possible to the Superdome before the game. After a run-in with security, he delivered the dish, posed for a picture with Madden, and left.

It was an unwritten rule that Madden got to eat first, but the realization had hit that there were no utensils or napkins.

After a good 30 seconds of people scouring the booth and coming up empty, Madden couldn't take it anymore. He dug his hands into the turducken, ripping chunks off and eating them as the bemused crew laughed and asked him how it was. "I love it," Madden said between mouthfuls. "I absolutely love it."

Madden kept eating the turducken through the game, and made the dish a national phenomenon. The story of that day takes us through the history of the turducken, Mistich's method of creating them, and what that game meant for turducken chefs in the decades since. And it's pretty funny, too. Read the whole story at ESPN.  -via Digg


Rare Tudor Paintings Found In A Medieval Manor

A team of restorers in England were preparing for a building repair when they discovered some well-preserved Tudor wall paintings. The artworks were hidden away under layers of plaster, in a semi-derelict parlor block, until they noticed signs of early wall paintings. According to Anna Keay, director of the Landmark Trust, a British building conservation nonprofit leading the restoration, “never in my own 27 years of working in historic buildings have I ever witnessed a discovery like this.” 

Image credit: Tom Burrows; courtesy of Landmark Trust


The Photographer Who Took Photos Of The High Society

Photographer Slim Aarons is known for showing the public a glimpse of the lives of the rich and beautiful. The late photographer worked for publications such as Town & Country, Harper's Bazaar, and Life magazine, and has taken wonderful photos of aristocrats and socialites. From champagne parties on snowy retreats to lounging in different villas around the globe, his photos exude luxury, elegance, and money.  In a new book discussing Aarons’ work, Shawn Waldron and his colleague shared that instead of taking the photos to celebrate or critique the lavish lifestyles these people had, he was merely driven by curiosity. 

Image credit: Slim Aarons 


Dogs Know When Someone Is Lying To Them

A new study discovered that there’s actually a possibility that our friendly, adorable puppers know when we’re lying to them. Ludwig Huber, Lucrezia Lonardo, and their colleagues from the Messerli Research Institute in Vienna, Italy found that dogs react differently to people who told them a lie without realizing it than they did to a person who knowingly lied to them. Majority of the 260 dogs involved in the study responded when they were told the truth rather than a lie. Learn more about the study here! 

Image credit: Victor Grabarczyk/Unsplash


Quaint Storefronts With Whimsical Designs Illustrated By Angela Hao

US-based artist Angela Hao creates colorful, whimsical, and somehow comforting illustrations of different Japanese storefronts inspired by her trips to Tokyo and Osaka using Google Street View. According to Hao, her art focuses on architectural illustration. She recreates the shops she sees while using the application, and then adds dreamy touches, like luscious plants, expressive signage, and adorable cats.

Image credit: Angela Hao 


Burberry’s Reflective Mirror Landscape In Jeju Island, South Korea

It looks stunning! 

Luxury fashion brand Burberry has launched a pop-up store in Jeju Island, South Korea. The brand added more beauty to the tourist destination with their scenic mirror landscape that promotes their outerwear collection. According to the company, the huge scenic pop-up store aims to blur the lines between “nature and technology, the indoors and outdoors, the real and the imagined.”

Image credit: Burberry via HYPEBEAST


Planktonium



Plankton is a catch-all name for the tiny lifeforms that inhabit our water. They come in a ridiculous variety of sizes and shapes, but mainly two types: plants (phytoplankton) and animals (zooplankton). Within those categories are an entire encyclopedia of different plankton species, each with their own ecological niche. Plankton drift along with the current, mainly reproducing and waiting to be eaten. As they are the bottom of the food chain, they are essential to all life on earth. They also excrete oxygen as a waste product and perform other chemical processes that help to keep ocean waters healthy for other living things.

Dutch filmmaker Jan van IJken recorded different types of plankton through a microscope and assembled this gorgeous compilation of their forms. Some look like inanimate objects, while others resemble critters we  might recognize if they were bigger. A few of them may as well be aliens from a science fiction fantasy. -via Geeks Are Sexy 


America’s Most Unique Thanksgiving Side Dishes

While the basics of America's Thanksgiving feast are widely known and eaten across the country: turkey, dressing, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, there are regional variations in the menu that you might never have heard of. Or maybe your family has a tradition of serving something that you would be surprised to find doesn't exist nationwide. Then again, there might even be a local variation in your own area that you aren't familiar with!

Does your family serve Frog Eye Salad, Wild Rice Casserole, Sopapilla Cheesecake, or Funeral Potatoes for Thanksgiving? Find out where these are common and why at Atlas Obscura, and if they pique your curiosity or hunger, follow the links to a recipe for each. You'll have to Google the recipe for persimmon bread, I'm afraid. 

Note: The list does not include cranberry pickle pie.

(Image credit: Flickr user SK)






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